Pine-Richland swimmers set for WPIAL championships
The Pine-Richland swimming teams are gearing up for the WPIAL Class AAA championships set for Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
The Rams are armed with athletes who are experienced in the itle meet and others who are qualifying for the first time.
Regardless of their experience level, all have one thing in common: They want to earn a spot on the podium.
While coach Pete Barry said he knows much of their success could depend on circumstance, he said the one thing he is sure of is that their hard work is what makes them belong among the WPIAL’s best.
“The whole team has been working really hard,” he said. “The girls qualified in the 200 free and 400 free relays, and the boys have qualified in all three relays.
“On a lot of these events, it could be a surprise when we get there, based off of what other teams do and who they have swimming in which events. But wherever the chips fall, they fall. We’re just worried about doing our best down there and excelling at the things we can control.”
The Rams also have a handful of individual qualifiers.
For the girls, Alyssa Schonbachler already has punched her qualifying ticket in the 200-yard IM and 100 backstroke.
This will be the junior’s third consecutive year competing at WPIALs. She will attempt to improve upon last year’s 13th-place finish in the 200 IM and her 21st-place finish in the 100 back.
“She’s a good all-around swimmer,” Barry said. “Last year and this year, it’s the same events, and she does really well in them. I know some of her goals are to get up on our record board, place in WPIALs and make it out to states.
“She has the talent to get it done, and she’s trying very hard to get those things accomplished.”
Sophomore Abby Flood also will be participating in WPIALs for the second consecutive year, qualifying for the 200 free and 500 free.
For the boys, senior Jonathon Kelly will compete in the 200 IM and 100 breast, and fellow senior Jacob Garretson is set to swim in the 500 free.
This is Kelly’s third time competing at WPIALs and Garretson’s fourth.
Two freshmen also are stepping up to the plate for the boys team, and both will be swimming in two events, in addition to participating on at least one of the relays. Ethan O’Connor qualified in the 500 free and 100 back, and Trent Vacula will be swimming the 500 free and 200 IM.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.